There are many ways to palletise, and most of them make sense, depending on the circumstances. We can palletise:
I already wrote about Robots so I will not cover this topic again. I might come back later on manual palletising and on Gantry Robots, but today I would like to cover single line versus multi line palletising.
First of all, what am I talking about?
As you know, at Alvey we do both. Both architectures have advantages and disadvantages. Let us have a look at them.
Single line has the advantage that it is easy, and compared to multiline, almost invariably a lower initial investment. It is easy for the operator to understand the system, as the variety of products to handle is likely to be limited and typically the device will be installed next to or near the production line. The initial investment will be limited, AND it can be staged, buying one machine at the time. The customer is also free to choose from any supplier, meaning that if he already has one machine, this does not necessarily mean he must buy the next one from the same supplier.
The disadvantages of single line solutions are, among other, that typically the machines will be close to the production lines, and there will be many of them. This in turn means that operators, wooden pallets (which will have traveled across Europe) and forklift traffic are likely to be near the production. This is a big disadvantage, as demands on hygiene and safety are increasing every day. Another disadvantage is that the cost of ownership will be higher, in terms of operators, spare parts, maintenance and energy consumption. Footprint is a concern for many of our customers, as their business is expanding and buildings tend not to be elastic, so space is at a premium. End of line systems necessarily have a substantially larger footprint than multiline systems. End of line systems are also inherently less efficient, in the sense that when there is no production, for instance during a product change, the end of line palletiser will be idle as well. Finally, and purely statistically, the more devices are there, the more likely the chance of a breakdown.
The advantages of a multiline system are virtually the opposite of the disadvantages of single line systems, so there is no need to repeat them here. However, multiline systems also have distinct disadvantages. First, the initial investment will be substantially higher, and the staging possibilities are limited. Secondly, the customer will need to trust the supplier (hopefully, us) very strongly, as all production will go over ONE system. Third, the system will be more complex as a multitude of products will need to be handled centrally.
So, what is best? At Alvey, we do both and personally, I have no preference. As there are many competitors offering single line solutions, and few who offer multiline, of course on the commercial side we have a stronger position if a multiline solution is being discussed. But that is a selfish point of view I hope we never apply. Certainly my instructions are not to. The answer can really only be given by the customer, who is the only one in a position to judge what advantages and disadvantages are critical to his company and situation.
Maarten van Leeuwen
Group Managing Director
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